Can you help me understand the meaning of the highlited part in following sentence:
[It was a long-term training partnership that had mutual benefit for the two runners, though three years later, Holmes and Mutola were forced to defend allegations that they had colluded, after a gold-silver finish in the World Championships in Paris.]
Thanks a lot.
They were defending themselves against allegations made against them. People in the media had said that they ran as a team, to make sure that they came first and second in that race; that was the allegation, and they just said 'we didn't'.
Edmonton and again in 2003 in Paris. It was widely felt that Mutola ran tactically during the 2003 race by setting a slow pace in order to aid her training partner Kelly Holmes.
From: Maria Mutola - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Last year the pair finished first and second in the 800m at the world championships in Paris, amid allegations that Mutola, who took gold, had balked rivals to help her friend. Holmes denied there had been any collusion, and took exception to suggestions that the relationship was anything other than platonic.
From: The Guardian profile: Kelly Holmes | UK news | The Guardian
MM OK, how are we going to approach this race?
KH Well, we sure want to come first and second.
MM Right. At the gun, you go off fast, to run the legs out of the rest. I'll hang back. Then, on the back straight I'll take them all; then you can have a bit of a rest, slipstreaming me for the last 300m.
KH Hmm... Why not do it the other way round? ...[etc]
Legal note: Of course I have no reason to think there was a conversation like this. It is just an example of the alleged collusion.
I'm not a middle-distance runner and don't know all the tactical possibilities, but there are lots of opportunities for tactical running so that two people get an unfair advantage in what is supposed to be a race between individuals.